March 1, 2012 (Chris Moore)
Overall economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace in all Federal Reserve Districts according to the latest edition of the Beige Book released by the Federal Reserve covering economic activity from January through early February.
The Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts described activity as expanding at a moderate pace while St. Louis described activity in their District as modest. The New York District reported that the pace of expansion had slowed while the Boston and Richmond Districts described activity as expanding and improving.
Manufacturing continued to show improved strength, especially in auto-related industries. Other industries that reported expansion in manufacturing were in information technology equipment, primary metals manufacturing and steel while some districts reported decreased activity in chemical and paper manufacturing and in the manufacturing of household goods and building materials.
Residential real estate construction activity remained at low levels with the exception of multi-family construction. Single-family home construction remained weak with St. Louis reporting a decline in construction while Cleveland experienced a decline in construction following the up-tick in activity at the end of last year.
An increase in construction of multi-family residences was reported in the Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts.
Boston, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Dallas reported improved home sales while the Philadelphia District reported they experienced strong residential sales activity. New York reported steady to slightly softer home sales while St. Louis reported home sales declined, and in San Francisco, home demand remained at low levels.
Several Districts had an optimistic view of future home sales with Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Dallas reporting they expected home sales to improve in their Districts.
Three Districts, New York, Richmond, and Kansas City, reported increased demand or continued strength for residential mortgage loans while mortgage demand in St. Louis was flat to moderately stronger and Kansas City reported demand for mortgage loans had softened.
Credit standards and quality were largely unchanged across the Districts with stable or improving loan quality reported in Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kansas City. San Francisco and Richmond noted that lending standards had remained restrictive in their Districts.
Tags: Federal Reserve, Beige Book, housing market, real estate markets, single family homes, multifamily market, construction activity